When you live in America, you forget that the rest of the world might have a very different vision of life and laws in the United States. Travelers to the U.S. need to consult their nation’s travel advisories just as Americans do when going abroad.
The warnings for the land of the free and the home of the brave may seem a little ridiculous or excessive to Americans. Some are genuinely rooted in legal differences between nations, and some seem inspired by Hollywood misrepresentations of American life. Here are ten advisories that may make you chuckle, take mild offense, or even feel sympathy for people who live elsewhere.
10. Germany warns, “Do not talk to prostitutes.”
Prostitution is legal in parts of Europe, so the German government needed to remind its citizens that even chatting up a working girl can be seen as solicitation. This might be why many Europeans enjoy visiting rural Nevada more than you might expect.
9. Austria says. “Don’t drink the water.”
Yup, that’s for the United States, Not Mexico. Austria does give props for the general safety of consuming American water, but warns it tastes kinda funky. The H2O in the U.S. can taste a little chlorinated. Some regions of the country are definitely worse than others.
8. Switzerland warns: “Don’t pee in the street.”
This has more to do with what Europe views as the States’ draconian laws around public nudity than hygiene, but we’re fine with this advisory. In fact, Switzerland, if you could just come to Manhattan and Portland to tell people this, that’d be great.
7. The Chinese warn: “No cutting!”
Americans take standing politely in line for granted. In China, it’s apparently common to just insert yourself wherever you like in a line. In the U.S., it could lead to “disputes,” as the Chinese government coyly states. Americans know this could range from the cutter’s parentage being insulted right down to getting popped in the mouth.
6. Russia accurately advises not to rely on your cab driver.
This is one instance where Russia has a point. They bluntly inform their citizens that many cabbies in the U.S. are recent immigrants who may not know how to get somewhere any better than they do. Thank God most of us have smartphones with a map app now.
5. GUNS. GUNS EVERYWHERE!!!
Considering the way guns are depicted in movies and the understandable coverage mass shootings get on the news, it’s not very surprising that some other nations imagine America is a hell hole that rains down bullets every second of every day.
The reality is that most Americans live to the ripe old age of cardiac arrest, that guns and gun violence are in every country (legal or not), and the U.S. doesn’t actually have the highest rate of gun deaths in the world. It ranks thirty-first.
4. The Irish are meh about crime, but very concerned about weather.
For every continental European, Canadian, or Aussie fretting about guns, there’s an Irishman who shrugs. In fact, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says, “Crime remains relatively low in the US.”
But WHOA watch out for hurricanes and whatnot! A nation that freezing rain keeps lush and green has not seen the likes of tornadoes and hurricanes in fifty years, which is why Ophelia was so devastating.
3. Austria declares it’s okay to be gay.
The land of edelweiss happily tells travelers not to worry about booking a room for two boys or two girls, or even unmarried straight people. This may seem very quaint to Americans, but it’s a stark reminder that other parts of the world still view these behaviors as crimes.
2. Germany: “Don’t stalk Americans. They hate that.”
What is going on with you, Germany? They warn their travelers that America has laws on the books punishing people for “repeatedly following or repeatedly harassing another person, called ‘stalking’….” Nein means nein, you guys.
And number 1: Germany (again!) advises against being naked in public.
Depending on one’s perspective, Germany sounds like either the scariest place on Earth, or the greatest. They have to tell Germans not to change on the beach, parade around naked, or let kids run around naked, because America has —GASP— laws about that!
They say this also applies to breastfeeding, which is true depending on the area. But it also, with good reason, also applies to public urination, as the previously noted by the Swiss.
Y’all can go pee in your streets all you like, Europe. We’re good with our pee-free, nudity-free thoroughfares and boulevards, danke.